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In setback for Biden’s mandate policy, Florida appeals court allows governor to ban obligatory masks in schools

On Friday, the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee overruled Leon County Judge John Cooper’s decision to block the enforcement of the mandate ban, meaning schools that try to force children to wear masks can be punished by the governor.

“Upon our review of the trial’s court’s final judgment and the operative pleadings, we have serious doubts about standing, jurisdiction, and other threshold matters,” said the appeals court order, casting doubt on the case the mandate advocates made through a group of parents.

DeSantis is a Republican governor opposed to lockdowns and mask mandates, who has opted for encouraging vaccinations and antibody treatments for Covid-19 instead. He has argued that masking up ought to be voluntary, and that school mask mandates violate the rights of parents and children. Under the rules enacted by DeSantis last month, school administrators who impose mask mandates can be docked pay. Judge Cooper tried to block their enforcement.

Of the 67 school districts in Florida, 13 have adopted strict mask mandates in violation of the state order. So far, DeSantis has withheld the monthly salary of school board members in two counties, Broward and Alachua, while investigating others for non-compliance.

On Thursday, Biden said the federal government would reimburse anyone who defies the mask mandate ban, as part of his push to force some 80 million Americans to get vaccinated or submit to weekly tests under the threat of losing their jobs or paying massive fines. Biden blamed the “unvaccinated” for the surge in Covid-19 cases and said the vaccinated must be protected from them.

“This is not about freedom, or personal choice,” Biden said in a televised speech, later adding, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”

Biden also said state governors should require vaccinations of all school teachers and staff, imposed a vaccination requirement on 300,000 teachers in the federal Head Start program, and vowed to go after any governors “undermining” his measures.

“If these governors won’t help, I will use my powers as president and get them out of the way,” he said.

Last month, DeSantis vowed to “stand in the way” of Covid-19 mandates, lockdowns, and other restrictions, saying the US can “either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state.”

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